The Hispanic community paused recently to honor the victims, families and survivors of the Pulse shooting in a Spanish-language vigil at the Dr. Phillips center in Downtown Orlando.
The event was coordinated by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando, which since the Pulse nightclub shooting June 12, has worked nonstop to provide services, answer questions and calm the community, alongside many other community organizers and volunteers.
The shooting was the single worst in American history. About three-quarters of the shooting victims were Latinos, the single largest group from Puerto Rico.
The stress of tending to the needs of the community, combined with the sorrow of the massacre, lined many tired faces at the Hispanic Chamber’s vigilia. Chamber officials appeared subdued and some even sobbed.
The vigil brought out survivors from the Boston marathon bombing. It showcased songs and short speeches, including Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, each of whom addressed the crowd in Spanish.
“So many of the victims were of Latino descent,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said to Orlando Latino. “It’s important that we recognize the multicultural nature of the event.”
It wasn’t always so, as many Hispanics earlier complained that officials and others were downplaying the ethnicity of the victims, who had gathered at Pulse that fateful evening for Latin night.
It was as if being LGBT and Latino were mutually exclusive.
“I am Hispanic and openly gay,” local entrepreneur Carlos Carbonell told the crowd. “Both of my families are mourning.”
City Commissioner Tony Ortiz, whose southeast district is heavily Hispanic, spoke of love and lives that were cut short, although his was the lone vote against same-sex marriage in the Orlando City Commission.
“Todos, todos, todos, todos somos hijos de Dios,” Ortiz said. “Todos somos seres humanos.” All of us are children of God. We are all human beings.
“Orlando United is more than a hashtag,” he added.
Indeed. First Baptist of Orlando is holding a vigil Tuesday, June 28, that will bring together followers of Orlando’s largest evangelical Hispanic churches, including Iglesia El Calvario and Fuente de Agua Viva, in an event titled ¡Amamos Orlando! (We Love Orlando) and headlined by Christian singer and pastor Marcos Witt.
Fuente de Agua Viva may livestream the event direct to Puerto Rico, where its parent church is based.
What: ¡Amamos Orlando!
When: Tuesday, June 28, at 7: 30 p.m. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Where: First Baptist Orlando, 3000 South John Young Parkway, Orlando
˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor